There's an interesting piece in The Economist. It seems a financial advice firm was looking for proof that people need their services. The firm placed a man in a sandwich board outside a store. The sign said something to effect "Free five pound notes - just ask." Very few people asked.
The firm says this proves people are not rational decision-makers. I tend to agree with the conclusion of the article; the firm doesn't understand everyone's rationale. I'm not sure I could state unequivocally that I'd walk up to a stranger professing to give away money. How does the character look? (We spend a lot of time teaching our children not to accept gifts from strangers. And if an offer is "too good to be true, it probably is". There's even that old economics joke about the two economists walking down the street, who see a $100 bill in the gutter. One tells the other it isn't real - because if it was it would have been picked up already.) How much of a hurry am I in (time value/time utility)? Do I think I'm going to get hooked into a lecture? Experiments like this are valuable because they give us insights into the decision-making process. I maintain the decisions of every person were rational, whether they asked or not. It was their choice to make and they weighed what they thought might be the costs and benefits. What do you think?